The European Union and the Muslim World

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Course Information
International Relations
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

One course in international relations, political science, or post World War II European history.


This foreign policy course offers a systematic overview on European Union relations with the Muslim World and Muslim Communities, including inside Europe, on the periphery of Europe as well as beyond Europe. It encompasses issues of security, international relations, comparative public policy and intercultural dialogue.

The course will cover:

  1. The European Union and the Muslim World – Background, Concepts, Actors
  2. Relations within the European Union with its Muslim communities
  3. Relations with the periphery: the importance of Turkey to the EU
  4. Relations beyond Europe
  5. Wrap up: The way forward and comparative approaches
Attendance policy: 

All IES courses require attendance and participation. Attendance is mandatory per IES policy. Any unexcused absence will incur a penalty of 3% on your final grade. Any student who has more than three (3) unexcused absences will receive an “F” as the final grade in the course. Absences due to sickness, religious observances, and family emergencies may be excusable at the discretion of the Center Director.

In the case of an excused absence, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Academic Dean of the absence with an Official Excused Absence Form, as well as any other relevant documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note), and to keep a record thereof. This form must be turned in as soon as possible before the class, in the case of a planned absence, or immediately after the class, in the case of an unplanned absence, in order for the absence to be considered excused. It is also the student’s responsibility to inform the professor of the missed class. Students can collect and submit the Official Excused Absence Form from the office of the Academic Dean.

Tests missed during unexcused absences cannot be made up

Updated information on your course and readings can be found on Moodle.


Learning outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the complex political ties and intercultural challenges of the European Union and Muslim countries and communities throughout the world practically and theoretically
  • Discuss Euro-Arab relations, conflicts and security issues. 
  • Analyse the multi-faceted dimensions and strategic importance of EU-Muslim World relations in a multipolar international order, 
  • Compare and contrast the EU perspective and US approaches in assessing dialogue and cooperation with Muslim countries.
  • Demonstrate a deeper understanding of the intercultural communication aspects and perspectives of international relations beyond the usual “clash of civilizations” or religious-secular polemics.
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, Presentations, Seminar discussions, Case studies, Field Study Visit

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Participation in seminar discussions - 10%
  • Four analytic writing assignments - 20%
  • Two Essays - 20%
  • Midterm exam - 25%
  • Final exam - 25%

Seminar discussions
Seminar discussiona are based upon the compulsory readings and teaching introductions to the subject given at each session. The lecturer will give an introduction and background to the topic and all students are expected to join the seminar discussions following the teaching introductions with (prepared) questions and points related to the readings. Additional material may also be distributed in class by the instructor in order to briefly develop relevant points raised.

Analytic writing assignments
Four analytic writing assignments (500-1000 words each). These will be written on session-related topics (a discussion question will be provided for each written assignment). Written assignments are to be submitted via e-mail before the start of the respective session indicated in the syllabus.

Two essays (2000-3000 words each). Students are required to discuss methodological issues with Dr. Heine no later than one week before the submission deadline (see office hours). Essays will be written on session-related topics. The essays and written assignments will develop the capacity for critical academic analysis and serve as a basis for seminar discussions and group projects. They are to be submitted via e-mail before the start of the respective session indicated in the syllabus.

Midterm exam: The midterm exam (90 minutes) consists of three essay questions covering the material of the first eight sessions.

Final exam: The final exam (90 minutes) consists of essay questions, based on arguments, facts, compulsory readings and other material distributed in class.

PART I: The European Union and the Muslim World – Background, Concepts, Actors

The European Union and the Muslim World

  • Introduction to the course
  • Current issues, challenges and debates between the Muslim World and Europe

Required Readings:

  • Buruma (2010: 85-125)

The Muslim World as a European Imagination

  • Historical background and legacy
  • Implications for the relations between the European Union and the Muslim world
  • Group work

Required Readings:

  • Said (1994: 1-49)

The “Clash of Civilizations”: Huntington’s Thesis

  • Debate

Required Readings:

  • Huntington (1993: 22-49)

Islam in the West or Westernized Islam?

  • Background and current developments

Analytic Writing Assignment 1

Required Readings:

  • Roy (2004: 201-231)

Integrating Islam in Europe and the transformation of the public sphere

  • Current challenges and debates: assimilation vs. multiculturalism
  • burqa ban debate

Essay option 1

Required Readings:

  • Amiraux (2012: 205-224)

Recommended Readings:

  • Amghar et al. (2007); Tarlo (2007)

The Decline of European Multiculturalism: Muslim communities, Radicalism, Islamophobia and the Rise of Right-wing Populism in Europe

  • Analysis and debate

Essay option 2

Required Readings:

  • Buruma (2006: 1-70)
EU Institutions Field Trip
PART II: Relations within the European Union with its Muslim communities

UK: New Labour’s strategy of prevention and integration

  • The liberal model of multiculturalism under pressure

Essay option 3

Required Readings:

  • Jones (2013: 550-566)

Germany: incremental integration into a corporatist society

  • The success and limits of legal multiculturalism
  • The challenge of the current refugee crisis

Analytic Writing Assignment 2 due

Required Readings:

  • Joppke and Torpey (2013: 48-83)

Recommended Readings:

  • Kortmann and Rosenow-Wiliams (2013)

France: Laicité and the perils of a secular reconquista

  • The failure of the republican model of assimilation and the crisis of French identity

Essay option 4

Required Readings:

  • Roy (2007: 1-35)

Recommended Readings:

  • Amiraux and Koussens (2013)
10 Mid-term Exam (on sessions 1-9)  

PART III: The EU’s relations with potential member states


The Rise of Islam in Politics in the Western Balkans

  • Islam between political identity and religious practice
  • Case study: Is there a ‘model of European Islam’ in Bosnia?

Essay option 5

Required Readings:

  • Bougarel (2003: 345-360); Bougarel (2007: 96-124)

Recommended Readings:

  • Elbasani (2015)

EU-Turkey Relations

  • Turkey’s liminal position: between integration and Europe’s ‘other’

Essay option 6

Required Readings:

  • Hurd (2010: 185-203); Tocci (2014: 1-10)

Recommended Readings:

  • Pierini and Ülgen (2014)
PART IV: Geopolitical challenges within the EU’s periphery

The Arab Spring – From Protest to Revolution

  • The failure of political transformation?

Required Readings:

  • Roy (2012: 5-18) ); Boubekeur (2015: 1-8)

Recommended Readings:

  • Asseburg (2012)
Member States Field Trip

The European Union and the Arab Spring

  • Conviction or Realpolitik?

Essay option 7

Required Readings:

  • Bicchi (2014: 429-445)

Recommended Readings:

  • Del Sarto (2015)

The New Arab Winter? – from Civil War to the Counter-Revolution

Failed transition; authoritarian backlash; internal conflicts and the ‘success’ of ISIS

Essay option 8

Required Readings:

Khatib (2015: 1-28)

Recommended Readings: Barnes-Dacey, Geranmayeh, and Levy (2015); International Crisis Group (2015)


Turkey and the New Middle East

  • Current geopolitical challenges

Required Readings:

  • Salih (2015: 1-10);
  • International Crisis Group (2015a: 1-16)

Recommended Readings:

  • Karabekir et al. (2013)
  • Kirisci and Ferris (2015)
  • Marcou (2013)
  • Seufert (2015)

The New Middle East: a region between continued fragmentation and geopolitical reordering

  • International diplomacy
  • Saudi-Arabia and Iran: from competition to cooperation or conflict?

Essay option 9

Required Readings:

  • Barnes-Dacey and Levy (2015: 1-12)
  • Esfandiary and Tabatabai (2015: 1-15)

Recommended Readings:

  • Al-Rasheed (2015); Geranmayeh (2015); Posch (2013)

Required Readings:

  • Greenfield, Hawthorne, and Balfour (2013: 1-36)

Relations with the Muslim World – a comparison of EU and US approaches

  • Same goals, different approaches?

Taking stock and final discussion round



Required readings: 
  • Amiraux, Valérie (2012) ‘Racialization and the challenge of Muslim integration in the European Union’ in Shahram Akbarzadeh (ed.) Handbook of Political Islam, Routledge, pp. 205-224.
  • Barnes-Dacey, Julien and Daniel Levy (2015) Syrian Diplomacy Renewed: From Vienna to Raqqa (Policy Brief): London: ECFR.
  • Bicchi, Federica (2014) ‘Europe and the Arab Uprisings’ in Fawaz a. Gerges (ed.) The New Middle East. Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 429-45.
  • Boubekeur, Amel (2015) The Politics of Protest in Tunisia (SWP Comments 13). Berlin: SWP.
  • Bougarel, Xavier (2003) ‘Islam and Politics in the Post-Communist Balkans (1990-2000)’ in D. Keridis and Ch. Perry (eds.) New Approaches to Balkan Studies, Brassey’s, Dules, pp. 345-360.
  • Bougarel, Xavier (2007) ‘Bosnian Islam as “European Islam”: Limits and Shifts of a Concept’ in A. Al-Azmeh and E. Fokas (eds.) Islam in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 96-124.
  • Buruma, Ian (2006) Murder in Amsterdam. Liberal Europe, Islam and the Limits of Tolerance. Penguin Books.
  • Buruma, Ian (2010) Taming the Gods. Religion and Democracy on three Continents. Princeton University Press.
  • Esfandiary, Dina and Ariane Tabatabai (2015) ‘Iran’s ISIS policy’, International Affairs 91: 1, pp. 1-15
  • Greenfield, Danya, A. Hawthorne, and R. Balfour (2013) US and EU: Lack of Strategic Vision, Frustrated Efforts Toward the Arab Transitions. Washington, D.C.: Atlantic Council.
  • Huntington, Samuel P. (1993) ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49.
  • Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman (2010) ‘What is Driving the European Debate about Turkey?’, Insight Turkey 12: 1, pp. 185-203.
  • International Crisis Group (2015a) A Sisyphean Task? Resuming Turkey-PKK Peace Talks (Europe Briefing N° 77). Istanbul and Brussels: ICG.
  • Jones, Stephen H. (2013) ‘New Labour and the Re-making of British Islam: The Case of the Radical Middle Way and the “Reclamation” of the Classical Islamic Tradition’, Religions 4, pp. 550-566.
  • Khatib, Lina (2015) The Islamic State’s Strategy. Lasting and Expanding. Beirut: Carnegie Middle East Center.
  • Roy, Olivier (2004) Globalized Islam. The Search for a New Ummah. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Secularism Confronts Islam. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Roy, Olivier (2012) ‘The Transformation of the Arab World’, Journal of Democracy 23: 3, pp. 5-18.
  • Said, Edward W. (1994) Orientalism. 25th anniversary edition. New York: Vintage Books.